Avoiding marinara sauce was a skill I had perfected by the time I made it to college. Pizza? Only pesto or olive oil please. Pasta? There are so many options, don't you dare put that store bought tomato sauce in front of me.
My tomato sauce radar reaches far and wide, extending to tomato paste and ketchup. Pretty much anything tomato sauce would have me turning up my nose. (I speak in past tense here, but I still avoid tomato paste and ketchup regularly).
But then a wrench was thrown into my tomato-avoiding scheme: I intended to cook dinner for someone, and they told me tragically that their favorite food in the world was spaghetti with marinara. Sure, I could've taken a pass and made something completely different, but this ignited a fire in me. It made me think twice about tomato sauce. Good enough to be a favorite? Who would've thunk. But I had to see for myself so I gave it a try, the right way: no store bought crap.
I sliced onions, minced garlic, and added a touch of wine. I was overly cautious about letting it get to sweet, and added plenty (and I mean plenty!) of salt. Fresh basil was stirred in at the last moment. I took a bite, right there, standing at the white electric stove in my first apartment. And then another. Ok, this stuff is good. Suddenly I knew what all the fuss was about.
How had I spent so many years thinking all marinara sauce was created equal when there is clearly a divide between the stuff you pour from a jar and the stuff you stir with a wooden spoon?
Homemade marinara sauce can be used just like any marinara sauce: on a pizza (puree it smooth), over pasta (leave it chunky, add some sausage or meatballs), in chicken parmesan, even Shakshuka. The list goes on a and on. What is your favorite way to use Marinara sauce?
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Serves: 4 | Total Time: 20 minutes
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (coconut, avocado, or olive)
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 24-ounce can diced tomatoes (you can use fresh too, but you’ll need to cook the sauce longer)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (fresh works too!)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (fresh works too!)
- 1/4 cup minced basil
- Salt & pepper
- Optional: red pepper flakes
- Heat oil in the bottom of a medium sized sauce pan. Dice onion, and when the oil it hot, add to pan along with the minced garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Pour wine into pot, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to release any brown bits from the bottom. Allow wine to reduce to about 2 tablespoons.
- Pour tomatoes into pot, and stir. Bring to a simmer. Stir in oregano and thyme. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add half of the basil, and then use an immersion blender to puree sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. I like mine slightly chunky. (You can do this with out an immersion blender, just use a label to transfer the sauce to a regular blender and pulse until desired consistency is reach. Then return sauce to pan).
- Allow sauce to simmer for 5 more minutes. This helps some of the extra water steam off, which results in a thicker, more flavorful sauce. Finally, stir in last of the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like a spicy marinara, add red pepper flakes to taste. Serve hot, use on pizzas, or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge.
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